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wellness Archives | Chaplain | JM Faith at Work

It’s Five O’clock Somewhere

By | Blog

Pastor Jim Melvin

Are you wasting away in Margaritaville?  Singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffet, known for his colorful Hawaian shirts, catchy lyrics and laid-back islands attitude could be nominated as the pandemic spokesperson.  Many of his song titles like “Wasting Away in Margarittaville,”  “It’s Five O’clock Somewhere,” “And Why don’t we get Drunk,” extol the use and abuse of alcohol.

Judging from celebrity posts on Facebook, and the posts of my friends, family, and coworkers, the covid-19 pandemic has us awash in alcohol as much as in virus particles.  People working from home report happy hour starting earlier and lasting longer.  I have a friend who runs a liquor store that offers drive-through pickup and he says that since March his sales have made every day seem like New Year’s Eve. Statistics show that alcohol sales have risen as much as 55% since the covid related lockdowns began.

As lighthearted as the attitudes toward pandemic drinking habits appear, there are some serious consequences to our changes in consumption lurking in the background.  The following are some of the negative consequences that can logically be expected to result from the current uptick in drinking:

 

  • A rise in general health problems including a suppressed immune response which increases the susceptibility to disease including covid 19.
  • Weight gain which also negatively impacts overall health.
  • An in increase in the incidence and severity of depression.
  • Relationship problems, child neglect and spousal abuse are more common.
  • Lowered inhibition and lack of judgement in social situations increase the likelihood of exposure to covid 19 infections.

Lest I be accused of being a party pooper or a wet blanket, let it be known that I generally counsel moderation in all things.  Even the Bible says in 1 Timothy 5:23, “No longer drink only water, but take a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.” In balance, however, Ephesians 5:18 says, “Do not be a drunkard, for that is debauchery.”  Medical science seems to support the biblical advice.  It has been shown that one drink per day may have some health benefits including reducing heart disease.  More conclusively, anything more than moderate consumption leads to all kinds of serious afflictions including cancer, multiple organ failure and heart disease.

Alcohol usage goes up during times of stress.  An increase of alcohol abuse was observed after the 9/11 terror attacks.  The isolation caused by the pandemic and the resulting lack of positive social connections makes us extremely vulnerable.  Working at home increases the temptation to drink during the workday.  So here are some practical suggestions of steps that you can take to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle in “Coronaville.”

  • Honestly evaluate your drinking habits. Widely accepted health guidelines recommend no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.  A drink is defined as 1 twelve oz. regular beer, 1 five oz. glass of wine, or 1.5 oz. 80 proof distilled spirits. These amounts are to be consumed over the course of the week and not saved for a weekend binge. Overall, 0 drinks per day is best.
  • Strictly limit the duration of your cocktail hour if you have one. One hour seems to be an appropriate length of time for most people.
  • Be extra aware of your drinking on weekends, holidays, and vacations.
  • Do not drink during the workday.
  • Substitute non-alcoholic drinks or drinks with lower alcohol content for cocktail hour or engage in some other kind of activity or social interaction. It may work for you to serve alcohol only at dinner time.
  • Couples and family members should positively and respectfully support one another in limiting alcohol consumption.
  • Talk openly with social acquaintances about your decision to responsibly consume alcohol.
  • Seek professional help if you or a loved one is being negatively impacted by their drinking.
  • Avoid bars and parties where alcohol will be consumed in excess. These situations are the main source of covid spread at this time.  It is your right to politely decline invitations to social events that you feel would put you at risk.
  • Pray for strength and serenity.

It’s five o’clock somewhere right now.  If I wanted to, I could find a good reason to pop a beer or pour myself a drink.  I choose not to.  I know that, like you, I am operating under a higher than normal level of stress.  As much as this pandemic time stinks and tries to drive us to drink, we can create our own silver linings by committing to staying healthy in body, mind and spirit. Today, for me, five o’clock sounds like a good time to go for a walk.  What are you going to do?  Let’s just not waste away in Margaritaville.

Push Your Own Pause Button

By | Blog

Push Your Own Pause Button
By Pastor Jim Melvin

But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62

Jesus said, “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:25-27

How much of your time do you spend worrying about the future? How much of your time do you spend regretting the past? If you are like most people, probably a lot. At night you lie in bed fuming about your co-worker who didn’t show up for work and left you with an impossible task to struggle with on your own. Then your mind jumps to tomorrow as you worry about whether your boss will get on your case for falling behind. You wake up the next morning worn out from fretting and stewing rather than sleeping.

There is a way out of this frustrating trap. It begins with the realization that nothing ever happened in the past; it happened in the NOW. Nothing will ever happen in the future; it will happen in the NOW. The past and the future only exist in your mind. And since they exist only in your mind, you have power over them and how you react to them. Controlling your regrets and worries instead of letting them control you is not easy; it takes work. But with practice you can do it.

First, push the pause button in your mind. (See my previous article “A Simple Guide to Meditation” to put yourself in the present moment.) Think about what is happening to you in the current moment. Right now, for example, I’m sitting in a comfortable chair in a pleasant, air-conditioned room. I just had a bowl of cereal and a cup of coffee for breakfast and I’m pretty much free from aches and pains. A good day for a man my age. I could dredge up an unpleasant phone conversation I had yesterday, or I could worry about an unpleasant medical procedure scheduled for tomorrow. OR, I can choose to take a moment to enjoy the NOW.

I’m back. I just pressed my pause button and sat quietly for a minute and now I can continue writing, relaxed and refreshed.

I said that you are in control of the regrets of the past and worries about the future because they exist only in the mind. But how? Let my point out some biblical tools to help. The early church which was formed just after Jesus died, was full of people who were not so nice to one another. The Apostle Paul who had founded some of these churches, gave them some practical advice. He said, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32 Paul’s tool for dealing with the hurts of the past was forgiveness. He was echoing Jesus constant message of the power of forgiveness.

In dealing with some of those regrets about the past that arise in the middle of the night, it may not involve only forgiving others. Sometimes you will have to forgive yourself. You may be harder on yourself than you are on others. Forgive yourself as Christ forgives you. He accepts you just the way you are. You can too.

And about the worries for the future, Jesus reminds us that nothing we can do can add a single hour to our lives. Acceptance of that fact is another powerful tool of the NOW. Focus on what you CAN do. Worrying of the middle of the night will do no good. Clear your mind. Rest in the now. Then tomorrow, in the moment, you will be better equipped to plan and act to meet the challenges of a new day, a new NOW.

The danger of obsessing on the failures of the past or threats of the future is that they crowd out the power of NOW. Press the pause button. Spend more time in this moment. NOW is where it’s at.